Dragomir decided that Pagan would have rather liked his grave.
The battlefield upon which Dragomir’s forces had repulsed the Non - with, admittedly, some help - still bore the unmistakable signs of war. Bits of zombies lay strewn absolutely everywhere, baking in the sun and unmourned by their fellows, and the occasional oozy Non body sizzled and liquefied like spilled oil on the trampled grass and dirt. There were no werewolves to be seen, Dragomir noticed, and he wondered if they simply changed back to humans when they died.
None of these bodies would ever be buried. The army had to move on too quickly to give anyone a proper funeral. Even Pagan, who was the sole exception, received only this short vigil.
Pagan had not hit anyone on the way down. His descent to the ground had been undisturbed, and almost completely ignored by everyone around him. There was too much mayhem during the fight for anybody to notice an old man plummeting out of the sky. Yet his body had also been avoided by the fracas entirely, through some odd miracle, and he’d still looked quite dignified when he went into the ground on the same spot where he’d landed.
A single, simple, stone marker showed where he’d died. Dragomir suspected that Pagan would’ve preferred to be returned to his ruined estate, but a battlefield would do just as well. He hoped, anyway.
“You had so much more to teach me, old man,” Dragomir murmured, staring at the innocuous lump of dirt in front of the marker. “I don’t know shit ‘bout leading an army. You knew all the important stuff. Now what am I supposed to do?”
The grave didn’t respond. Nor, indeed, did the milling remains of Dragomir’s army on all sides of him, the zombies collecting their discarded body parts and the werewolves prowling restlessly, Fynn’s magic keeping their primal urges at bay. Dragomir wondered how taxing that must be for his son, realizing with a twinge of guilt that he’d barely spoken to Fynn since the arrival of the werewolves on the battlefield.
And now his mom’s gone, Dragomir thought. Taken. Again. By his older brother. And Eve, well, hell, she’s ‘round here somewheres, I think. I don’t even know anymore. My gods, but this family is a mess.
The voice from behind tugged Dragomir’s attention away from Pagan’s grave, and he turned to see Daena. She was smiling, though gravely, and bags under her eyes hinted at a few sleepless nights.
“Hi, Daena,” Dragomir said, shuffling his feet. “You’re lookin’ really… um… stationary, these days. Good to have you back.”
“Thank you.” Daena brushed the bangs out of her face. Dragomir wondered if she’d been crying, but decided she probably hadn’t. Daena was pretty tough like that. “Logan was wondering if we’re getting underway soon. And our planned course of action.”
Dragomir scowled, though he did his best to hide it. In the short few hours since his return Logan had become remarkably demanding, always wanting answers to tactical questions. Dragomir had few answers that would please Logan, especially now that Pagan, his most useful advisor had bitten the dust. Logan seemed to expect Dragomir to have some grand, epic plan for driving out the Non and stopping Grayson, and Dragomir had no such thing. He just wanted to get his wife back.
“Does he still want a meeting?” Dragomir asked.
“I think so.” Daena laced her fingers together. “I’m surprised. He’s not usually so… pushy, about these sorts of things. Official action, you know.”
“I know.” Dragomir peered back at the grave. “Sure, why not. Let’s have a meeting. Go tell ‘im I’ll be on the Sky Bitch in ten minutes.”
“Alright.” Daena lingered for a moment. She, too, regarded the grave, though her expression while doing so was much more honest than Dragomir’s. “I never liked him. I suppose I respected him, but I never liked him. He was too grim. I’m sorry for that.”
Dragomir shook his head, surprised that he was unsurprised by Daena’s frankness. “That’s okay. I don’t think Pagan cared much about bein’ liked. Though I think dad’s gonna get hit pretty hard when he finds out.”
“People keep dying,” Daena said, almost whispering. The bags under her eyes seemed to deepen. “It feels like we’ve already lost.”
Dragomir wanted to offer some optimistic reassurance to Daena. He wanted to tell her that this war, now, was meant to prevent anyone else from dying. That he, personally, would ensure that the rest of them would stay alive. That Kierkegaard and Grayson wouldn’t hurt anyone else, not while Dragomir the General was on the watch. He wanted to say all of those things, and plenty else, because Daena had already lost enough - A daughter, my god, her daughter is dead, and only another one of our enemies can possibly bring her back - and Daena was too good of a woman to hear anything less than optimism.
“Let’s go set up that meeting,” Dragomir said instead, turning away from the grave. “Let’s… let’s go.”